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Jan 8, 2010 10:31 AM

Best places to eat in Dallas

NY Foodies coming to Dallas for a long weekend in February. Looking for suggestions on restaurants of all sorts - at least one or two nice places for dinner (perhaps one refined new American-ish for a business dinner), more casual places for breakfast/dinner/lunch, etc. We can get all kinds of food in NY, so if there are specialties in Dallas that we can't get here (e.g. excellent Mexican), we'd definitely be interested. We eat everything! Apologies if this has been asked before - I couldn't find it when searching the board, but would happily accept being pointed to other threads!

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  1. Here's a few threads to get you started, you'll see a few common places pop up for Mexican: Taqueria El Fuego, El Ranchito, Escondido's, Fuel City Tacos, and many more. Many of the good places will be south of Maple or on Jefferson in Oak Cliff. Plug in these restaurants in searches and you'll get lots of detailed info. Based on your post you're a business traveler, but if you are here on a saturday, I strongly recommend the saturday buffet at El Fuego, you can try a big variety of dishes you won't typically see.

    Also note that there's a BBQ spot worth mentioning in the Metroplex now - Meshack's in Garland. Worth driving out there if your schedule permits. Brisket there is as good as it'll get before you'd have to make a drive to Central TX.

    For your "nice" dinner, I'd recommend Stephan Pyles, Bijoux, or Local.

    Make sure to get yourself some comfort food. Head down to Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff and have a meal at Hattie's. Get the fried green tomatoes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: air

      Hattie's: Shrimp and grits! Sensational "low country" cooking.
      1. Restaurant Gonzalez on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff. Eat the puerco guisado. (Pork stew) And, the absolute best handmade flour tortillas. Also, be sure to ask for the "fresca salsa" with your chips. You wont get it unless you ask for it. Much better than the regular salsa they'll serve you with the chips.
      2. Tacqueria El Fuego in Richardson. Have the chicharron tacos.
      3. Casa Milagro (very near El Fuego) in Richardson. Terrific "gringo" Tex-Mex in stylish, comfortable atmosphere. Great servers and great margaritas.
      All have websites.

    2. I moved to Dallas from NYC about a year and a half ago. The recommendations I'm making are based upon what I know you can't find in the NYC area and what Dallas offers that's unique.

      Nice - Stephan Pyles or Fearings. I'd include the French Room but you're able to find something similar in NYC.

      Mexican - Check out the recommendations on covering the Mexican places in Oak Cliff.

      Tex Mex - Lots of places to choose from and people have very strong opinions about them. Personally I like the Chiles Rellenos at Matt's Rancho Martinez and most items at Uncle Julio's.

      If you're looking for some takeout/drive through I'd recommend stopping by Big Mama's Chicken and Waffles. Skip the waffles but the chicken and gizzards are to die for.

      You're not going to believe this next recommendation given the number of Japanese restaurants in NYC but I'd recommend a stop by Tei An if the people in your group are especially fond of soba. Personally, I'm not but this place gets raves from almost everyone and it's nothing at all like any of the sushi/yakitori/soba places I've been in the city. Once again, on you can find pictures of their omikase.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mahalan

        good suggestions - I just want to point out that two of the best Mexican restaurants reviewed on dallasfood (Lito's and La Palapa Veracruzana) are now closed.

        I also like the Chili Rellenos at Matt's (chicken, verde). Since you're in TX, you may also wish to seek out some chicken fried steak (an allegedly reasonable version is available at Matt's)... the CFS at Ozona was pretty good when I had it.

      2. For a truly Texas sized serving of the best fried chicken with great sides (served family style and all you can eat on the sides and salad): Babe's Chicken Dinner House.

        (They also have chicken fried steak and a couple of locs also have pot roast and fried catfish)

        23 Replies
        1. re: CocoaNut

          I second Babe's. It's where I take most out-of-towners (not from the South) to experience some delicious Southern Cooking. I'm from Dallas, lived in New York the last couple years, and I am now back in Dallas. Accordingly, here's what I think Dallas does better than NYC.

          BBQ: Someone mentioned it earlier but Meshacks in Garland is tremendous. However, they're takeout only. Next I would recommend Bakers Ribs on Greenville for Ribs or Big Al's on Inwood for BBQ Chicken.

          Tex-Mex: This really depends on what dishes you're looking for, and I'll try to focus on very tex-mex items that are hard to find outside Texas. For enchiladas with chili con carne (basically cheese enchiladas with a meat chili as the sauce), Gonzalez's in Oak Cliff is amazing. For brisket tacos, I'd recommend Mia's. For queso (a cheese dip to go along side salsa with your chips) and fajitas, I recommend Pappasitos. Also, buy a prailine for dessert if they sell 'em wherever you go.

          Vietnamese: Dallas has way better Vietnamese food than New York. Go to Pho Pasteur for Pho, La Me for pretty much any other noodle dish, or Bistro B for a huge selection of all other Vietnamese dishes.

          Taiwanese: I used to go to Flushing Mall or Excellent Pork Chop House in Manhattan for Taiwanese but I've had much better here. Genroku Sushi & Grill in Plano for fried pork chop over rice. Kings Noodles in Richardson for beef noodle stew. May's Ice Cream in Richardson for most other dishes.

          Creole: The Big Easy in Plano is my favorite and while it still isn't very good it's better than your best bet in New York (Mara's Homemade in the East Village)

          Mexican Food: I recommend Cuquitas (on Spring Valley) for a sit down meal. Otherwise I recommend for El Paisano (on Lombardy), Fuel City (on Industrial), Taqueria El si Hay (on Davis), or El Rey de Tacos (on Park) for tacos.

          Breakfast: For a hearty breakfast including country ham, eggs, grits, bacon, sausage and the like, you can go to Pete's or Normas. For great beer battered biscuits and gravy, i recommend Barbecs.

          1. re: demigodh

            I read what you and Full Custom said about Meshack's and they're worth the drive from Carrollton (or from anywhere in the Metroplex really).

            For Taiwanese you should give Umeko and First Emperor a shot as well. Umeko is a very similar style of restaurant to Genroku (Taiwanese/Japanese), it's up in the Asia World shopping center strip on 75 and Legacy. First Emperor is a small hole in the wall place within earshot of Kirin Court and King's Noodles.

            Quick little side note: I went to Fuel City Tacos last night for the first time in the past couple months. I know it's one of those places that "you'll know it you see it" as it's a huge, well-lit gas station. However I got a little confused because I'm not around that area too often and apparently Industrial Blvd changed it's name to Riverfront Blvd, so just giving anyone else a heads up.

            1. re: air

              Good catch Air regarding Umeko. That's the place I meant to say. They have the best fried pork chop over rice. Also had pretty good three cup chicken there.

            2. re: demigodh

              demigodh: I'm sorry but Dallas doesn't have better Vietnamese than New York. Hell, even Wichita has better Vietnamese than Dallas. Likewise, NYC has plenty of good Taiwanese - the dishes you recommend can be found at most of the hole in the wall Chinese restaurants in Manhattan and usually with better food. Finally, as you point out, Meshack's only does takeout. Despite that, it's more than worth bringing it back to your hotel given my first visit to it over the weekend (and the 25 minute drive back to my place to eat it) - it's that good.

              1. re: mahalan

                Forgot to mention, Meshack's is cash only and it's a good idea to call your order ahead.

                1. re: mahalan

                  Mahalan: I guess my personal experience has been different than yours. I did try very hard in New York to find the best Vietnamese (in Elmhurst IMO) and Taiwanese (Flushing) and was disappointed. Also, I know Dallas has a much larger Vietnamese population than New York: 50,000 to 12,000 (or 7,000 for Wichita). Anyways, maybe I didn't find the right places in New York or you haven't found the right ones in Dallas. In any event, to the OP, I would recommend those cuisines while you're in Dallas though certainly they are less critical than say Tex Mex or BBQ.

                  1. re: demigodh

                    demigodh: I agree that Dallas has more Vietnamese people but I've been sadly disappointed by the pho here. The broth seems to either be cloudy or flavorless. The noodle dishes have been okay and I'm not a big fan of sandwiches (of any sort). Flushing is a great location for Taiwanese in NYC but about every other block in midtown also has a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant serving typical Americanized fare from a steam table and Taiwanese from a bi-lingual menu from the other end of the counter. These usually offer very good Chinese that is as good as any found here.

                    1. re: mahalan

                      Vietnamese food is more than just pho or noodle dishes. Have you ever tried Nam Hua, La Me (Garland), Saigon Block and Huong Ly (Richardson)? Nam Hua's Banh Xeo (crepe) is better than what I had in Vietnam (and elsewhere)! Nam Hua is the very first restaurants our NYC friend goes to as soon as she lands here. (She loves their chicken salad.) Saigon Block is known for its oven-baked whole catfish. I used to live near Little Saigon in SoCal. I'm very pleased with the Vietnamese food in Dallas.

                      1. re: kuidaore

                        I agree that it's more than pho and noodle dishes but they're what I generally use as a lithmus test to see if I want to try the other dishes. I've been to Nam Hua and La Me. Haven't tried Huong Ly or Saigon Block yet. Will give them a shot. Thanks.

                        1. re: mahalan

                          I think that practice works well for places where it's easy to tell they specialize in pho or banh mi, but not so much for places like Nam Hua, Saigon Block, Huong Ly as these restaurants have wider menus. It'd be disappointing to write a place off just because of an underwhelming experience with a dish that they aren't necessarily known for.

                          For example, Nam Hua's pho isn't bad, but it certainly isn't anything to write home about, yet as previously mentioned, they have an unbelievable banh xeo. You really just have to take the plunge into a dish you may not be familiar with and it's also a good idea to observe what others are ordering. Walk into Saigon Block on a friday or weekend night, and you'll see that whole catfish on every table.

                          Another tip, there is one lady at Nam Hua is very willing to describe their specialties too. Her name escapes me right now, but I just know her when I walk in since she remembers customers who ask a lot of questions and willing to try anything. Always enthusiastic about explaining good authentic dishes to try.

                          1. re: air

                            Here is the special (non translated menu at Nam Hua) translated.

                            Special Menu
                            Vietnamese - English
                            Vit Nuong Chao - Marinated Roasted Duck Gongee
                            Chem Chep Nuong Bo - Grilled Mussels
                            Goi Ngo Sen Vit/Ga - Lotus Root Salad with Duck/Chicken
                            Chau Ngot Thap Cam - Sweet & Sour Crispy Fish
                            Bo Luc Lac - Shaken Beef
                            Rau Tron Thit Bo - Three Beef Salad
                            Goi Gan Bo/Muc - Beef Jerky Salad/Squid Jerky Salad
                            Goi Da Truong/Bo Thai Lan - Thai Beef Salad

                            Bo Bop Thau/Tai Canh/La Lot - Lime Juice Cured Beef Salad with Star Fruit and Banana Flower/Lemon Juice Cured Beef/Grilled Wild Betel Leaf Wrapped Beef

                            Goi Cung Dinh - Royal Palace Salad
                            Tiet Canh Vit - Congealed Duck's Blood Cake With Herbs
                            Canh Ga Bay Qua Phan Thiet - Phan Tiet Fish Sauce Chicken Wings

                            Hen Xuc Banh Trang - Baby Clam Chip & Dip Appetizer with Seasame Cracker

                            Be Thui - Roast Beef with Ginger Sauce

                            Tom Ruong Me/Muoi - Sauteed Prawns with Tamarind Sauce and Peanuts/Fried Prawns with Salt

                            Heo Rung Hap/Xao Lan - Wild Boar with choice of Lemongrass/Coconut Curry Sauce

                            De Xao Lan/Xa Te - Goat with choice of Lemongrass/Sate Sauce
                            De Nuong Vy - Grilled Lemongrass Goat
                            Ca Nuong (Goi Truoc 2 Tieng) - Sweet & Sour Crispy Fish

                            I am not sure how it will post but let me know if you need any of the particular dishes translated.

                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                              Great! How did you have it translated? I took my Vietnamese friend there and asked her to translate that page. She said "Oh, this one is very good" "This one goes well w/ beer" etc. I said, "So what is it?" She said "I don't know how to explain." She was no help...

                              I thought there were rabbit and frog legs on this page.
                              What is Royal Palace Salad like?

                              1. re: kuidaore

                                Knowing LH, he probably had everything on the menu.

                                1. re: kuidaore

                                  I translated it myself is the answer to Kuidaore's first question.

                                  The answer to the second question there are. I need to translate three final dishes one of them has the rabbit and frog legs with a lemongrass sauce.

                                  I have never ordered the Royal Palace Salad. I do remember seeing a salad prepared at the Rex Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam eaturing the pummelo on Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie on PBS, online and podcast.


                                  1. re: kuidaore


                                    From asking around the Royal Palace salad also has lotus root in it as the main ingredient. Since this is the salad typical to the region around Hue and the owners from Nam Hua are from the Hanoi area it might be slightly different.

                                    Just make sure to nix the Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Răm) and Fish Mint (Diếp Cá). I have had both those herbs and can't stand either. If you don't know what it tastes like ask for a sample before they make your salad/dish. I do however really enjoy the Rice Patty Herb (Rau Ôm, Ngổ Ôm)

                                    Here is a good source with pictures (that is key) on the Vietnamese herbs, most of which can be found locally in the markets.

                              2. re: mahalan


                                Thanks! My girlfriend and I just returned from Saigon Block. Since it was 29 degrees outside, I was in the mood for some steaming hot pho. She chose the roast chicken breast over noodles. Both were excellent! My broth was clear and flavorful. Her chicken was tender, juicy, and smoky. When I return with friends, I plan to try one of the giant catfish I saw delivered to tables.

                                1. re: mahalan

                                  I'm glad you enjoyed their food. Actually, I'm not big on pho and have never had it at SB... but I love beef congee at Huong Ly (in Chinatown). I also like Bo 7 Mon (7 courses of beef) at Huong Ly better than Saigon Block. I was introduced to Huong By by a Vietnamese person.

                                  1. re: kuidaore

                                    Bring lots of people if you are doing Bo 7 Mon.

                              3. re: kuidaore

                                I happened to go to Saigon Block today for lunch (have seen it a few times since it's close to work). It was very good. Got the Bo Luc Lac (Shakin Beef). My only comment to this is --- I like my Shakin beef with a dipping sauce made with sald & pepper w/ fresh squeezed lime! Trust me, once you've had it with it, you'll never go back. Anyway, they don't serve it with that dipping sauce, but instead just with some soy sauce. However, the people there are super friendly, and were very accommodating and got me a little to go container w/ salt & pepper mixture with two lime wedges. Delicious!

                                1. re: pgwiz1


                                  I believe what you want is the bo luc lac muoi (bo = beef) (luc lac = shaken) (muối = salt) (hat tieu = black pepper).

                                  muối (moo-ee)

                                  hạt tiêu (haht. thee-oh)

                                  I am sure they can uderstand the muoi since they have fried frog legs with salt & pepper (Ech rang muoi)

                                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                    Better to order bo luc lac and request the dipping sauce on the side as you did. If you order bo luc lac muoi they may add salt (only) directly to the beef during cooking as they do with the other 'muoi' type dishes such as frog (ech) and squid (muc) where salt is more appropriate.

                          2. re: mahalan

                            I agree that Dallas Vietnamese is far better than New Yorks. I lived in Manhattan for several years and did not find one good Vietnamese restaurant, and not for a lack of trying. I grew up in northern VA, which has surprisingly good Vietnamese food...

                        2. re: CocoaNut

                          I should have noted that Babes does not serve alcohol. The Roanoke loc is BYOB, as I imagine all locs are, but if alcohol is an issue, I'd call ahead to verify.

                          If you would care to make the drive to Ft. Worth, I'd recommend Ellerbe's Fine Foods on the south side or Lonesome Dove in the stockyards - which is loaded with old West nostalgia, small shops, cattle drives, a rodeo and the TX Cowboy Hall of Fame.


                          (At Ellerbe's the menu is seasonal, so the online version may not reflect what you might actually see at the restaurant)

                        3. I've done it now. After reading ya'lls posts and writing my own, now I've got to get out in this cold and make a tacos run.

                          1. I third Babe's. Fuel City has amazing tacos. The corn in a cup there is fun as well. I keep hearing about El Fuego, which is just up the street and we will be trying very soon. I cook so much that I can't think of any amazing places off the top of my head. We have so many chains here that it is hard for me to think about all of the good mom and pops. DH teaches in Oak Cliff and I have eaten at several Mexican places there and they have all been really good. There is a great breakfast place near Parkland hospital that I can't think of the name of. Sonny Bryan's has gone downhill the way of Dickey's, so I don't recommend them. If you want fantastic Americanized Chinese, Bobo China is great. I've been going for 33 years now and they have had the same Chinese chef cooking there since then; the hot and sour soup is the best I've had anywhere. Canton in Richardson is great for authentic--It's mostly Chinese diners there and is really delightful. Twisted Root in Deep Ellum is nice for burgers--their sweet potato chips cannot be beat. We also enjoy a vegetarian resturaunt called Kalachandji's for vegetarian; it's in a Hari Krishna temple and is worth the visit.

                            Hmmm. I'll keep trying to think. My mind is blank right now.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                              The great breakfast place near Parkland is the Original Market Diner. Excellent diner food. I prefer their biscuits and gravy to Barbec's. You can tell it's a great place from the parking lot: for every Lexus or Mercedes driven by the MDs at Parkland (who should know better than to eat there, but still do), there are two pickups, squad cars, or minivans. Everyone loves the joint.